28 thoughts on “Cherry Saturday, January 20, 2018

  1. Well, the snow’s just turned to sleet, so not expecting any penguins today. Not going out unless I’m convinced it’s not slippery. But if so, I’ll go to a couple of art exhibitions in town and then have coffee in the bookshop.

    Otherwise, I’ll go on vegging, and ring a friend. I’m taking a three-day weekend, which started yesterday. Tomorrow I want to edit some photographs, and maybe read my fiction project notes.

  2. I’ve never understood the “awareness” thing when it’s something like, well, penguins. Yeah, I know they exist….?

  3. I just can never get over learning that penguins’ sex lives are brutal, bisexual, and rape-y. But they’re cute.

    My nephews just got to go to a behind the scenes thing at Columbus Zoo and hold one.

  4. watched Happy Feet with Hugh Jackman doing an Elvis Impersonation and Nicole Kidman doing a Marilyn Monroe impersonation

    1. Yep, she asked me for my take on several things. I wrote pages (g) including how I’d write the Grace/Ansari mess as a story.
      Thanks for posting that; I’d never have found it.

      1. (-: Very curious about how you’d write that.

        I first heard about it through Caitlyn Flanagan’s opinion piece in The Atlantic, and then I read the babe interview now.

        It seems to me that a lot of romance writers have grappled with this problem, in both heroes and villains. The biggest difference seems to be that the heroes can change and at least see this one woman as a valuable human being (and sometimes the reform is more widespread). I have seen this trope play out twice where the heroine gains the hero’s respect . . . by shooting him. (Full disclosure: I felt it was a curiously satisfying twist each time. I feel guilty about it after I read the story, but in the moment of the story? Well, fiction is supposed to be surprising and break some of the rules. In real life, shooting someone doesn’t often end up in happy marriages.)

        In real life . . . I’ve been in a similar situation. It seems to me that this is very much how it works. You use your words, he uses his, and maybe give the guy a second or third chance if you like him very much (and vice versa), and then you nope the fuck out of there when negotiations fail. I think it’s an important story to be out there, especially as a real-life example.

        1. I like Micki’s “In real life . . .” scenario. I didn’t think much of the New York Times article, starting with the title. (Of course, the Jenny Crusie quote was fine.)

          Yes, I agree that everything we read informs us and therefore can be taken as educational. For example, when a young teen, my daughter told me that she figured out the right answer on a school test because she had read it in a Babysitter’s Club story.

          However, I think literature can take us in all sorts of directions. There are kinds of romance plots that enourage women to be dependent and accepting of an inferior role to men, while there are other romance plots that encourage women to explore new ideas and become proactive and independent.

          I thought the article was a kind of quicky, identifying a genre which has the reputation of being women’s hidden guilty secret, then redefining it as educational. But the genre is more complex than the writer admits, so, little, if anything of substance, has been transmitted.

          1. She sent me several questions, and she seemed particularly interested in the idea of porn as a source of men’s attitudes toward women. It’s an interesting theory, and could explain why he was so grossly clueless, but I think it falls into the same trap as blaming women’s romances for unrealistic expectations about men. That was not her thesis, she asked me three other questions, but I think what she really wanted to know is, why did the date go so wrong? Why couldn’t Grace communicate her unhappiness more clearly and why wasn’t he paying better attention. (My guess: wine on both sides.)

          2. A lot of men tend to ignore anything they don’t want to hear. A lot of men don’t take “no” for an answer, or if they do technically accept the no, they don’t exactly take the news like a champ. I can count on one hand the number of dudes who took rejection well. I treasure those dudes in my memory even if I did not want to bang them, because I could get out of the situation without being terrified.

            Women are frequently scared to death to tell a man no, so they have to weasel around the topic and hope the guy gets the hint without getting offended. Men frequently ignore hints so that they can get what they want.

            This isn’t all people, but it’s a lot of them.

          3. I’ve never had a guy give me a hard time when I said no. Living a life fueled by anger does have it’s upside.

            I remember waking up one night and hearing something downstairs and poking my husband to wake up. “I think there’s somebody downstairs,” I said. “You go,” he said, “you’re scarier than I am anyway.” Amazing that marriage didn’t last.

            Then there was the lover I had after my divorce. One of the guys in one of my grad classes (I was the teacher) was getting a little weird (he wrote a paper called “Jennifer Is Raped”), and my current guy offered to meet me in the parking lot after class to make sure I was all right; then he said, “Never mind, you’re so angry, you’ll kill anybody who tries anything.” And I remember being at a bar one night and talking with a very nice guy who said, “You are a very angry person.” Damn right I am.

            Kind of explains Agnes and Nita, doesn’t it?

            Jen W. asked me why women don’t speak up. I think we do, it’s just that a lot of women are taught to be nice and want to be liked, so they speak up nicely and aren’t heard. I was taught to be mad as hell. Now that I think of it, I remember one night I was in a bar (I wasn’t in bars a lot, I swear) and this guy put his hand on my knee, and I said, “Better men than you have lost arms that way.” That might have been a little hostile. But you know, if a guy sticks with you after that, he’s not a wimp.

          4. I’ve been the sexual aggressor in two relationships, and I’ve been the one aggressed-upon in two (one of which turned into a #metoo situation). Otherwise, my other three or four relationships (depends on how you count them, I suppose), we pretty much took turns making advances upon each other.

            Nobody wants to hear no. And when you are young, it’s hard to hear it, and hard to articulate it.

            The silver-lining in stories like this is that it helps younger people firm up their own boundaries, and the discussions can provide scripts for getting what they want (sex, a fun night with a view toward more, out the door . . . whatever).

          5. I read an article a week or two ago on some recent research in the UK that 50% of girls definition of good sex was ‘it didn’t hurt’ (Faking It, in real life). I was completely wtf. So, my daughter is going to get romance novels, the open doors ones, from her teens.


            “But there is one phrase that needs to be added to the lexicon: intimate justice. Coined by researcher and psychologist at the University of Michigan Sara McClelland, intimate justice refers to a woman’s right to sexual pleasure – and the expectation that we are entitled to it.

            READ MORE:
            * New Zealand men rated worst lovers in the world
            * Let’s teach young men how to treat women
            * How can we better teach young people about sex and relationships?

            McClelland, who wrote a doctoral thesis on the sexual satisfaction of young adults, found that despite a degree of liberation around sex, young women often measured their sexual satisfaction by their partner’s pleasure rather than their own. The women in McClelland’s study would say things like “If he’s sexually satisfied, then I’m sexually satisfied.” Not surprisingly, young men measured their sexual satisfaction by ejaculation.

            When young women did reflect on their own sexual pleasure, their criteria for a good sexual experience was often that it didn’t hurt. That’s a depressingly low bar.

            This is consistent with my conversations with young women. When I interviewed teenage girls from two elite private schools in Melbourne about their experience of oral sex, I found that while they felt “sexually empowered” to engage in oral sex, they did not enjoy it. More depressingly, they didn’t even expect to enjoy it. Oral is just something girls give to guys.

            I asked the girls if the guys ever reciprocated and gave them oral sex. They laughed and squirmed with embarrassment as if the very suggestion was ridiculous. As one girl put it, “That would be gross.” ”

            Um, give that girl a romance novel, stat.

          6. I remember quite a while back somebody arguing that romance novels were bad for women because it gave them unrealistically high expectations of what to expect from men.
            Unlike all the movies and TV shows and magazines which give COMPLETELY realistic expectations of women for men.
            As far as I’m concerned, there should be more unrealistically high expectations of men. Then if men want sex, they’ll have to rise to the occasion in more ways than one.

        2. My favorite example of this is The Sherwood Ring, in which the heroine manages to convince the guy holding her brother captive into drinking sleeping drops. Which he knows she has on her, because she told him. You see, all he ever met in society were dumb girls, and he was very intrigued to find one that sounded intelligent…and after she tricked him, he proposed before passing out.

          (For more about this, look here: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Literature/TheSherwoodRing)

          I freaking love that book. I wish I could adapt it into…something.

          1. Oh, goodness, Jennifer, The Sherwood Ring sounds like the kind of thing to ring my bells. Because I am VERY susceptible to intellectual flattery. When this big, strong (and often smart — it’s not as much fun if the hero is dumb as a rock) admits that lil ol’ me (ahem, I mean, the heroine) is better than him, and he LOVES that . . . swoon. The whole “mother of warriors” trope just hits me in the heart. (And yes, I know it’s so DUMB. Dying in childbirth while creating smart, strong warriors is still DEAD. But the heart knows what tropes it likes.)

        3. You know, I think in her own way, she did all of that. He was clueless and when she finally got through to him, he got her a car to get home. It’s just that narratively, there’s no story there. There are two characters and a problem, but no motivation for her and the conflict circles the drain until she ends it by talking directly to him. You can make a story out of that, but not without knowing her motivation. That’s not to blame her for what happened; he was a horny drunk jerk, and he created the problem. Which is the problem with the narrative as it’s told.

          Looking at what happened just as a narrative as Grace tells it, she has no agency. He’s the one who’s active, she protests but does what he tells her to or deflects. His goal and motivation are pretty clear, hers is not. She’s under no duress: he’s not her boss, I don’t think he works in her field or has any power over her there and if so never uses it in the story, she’s not in a physical situation where she can’t get away, he’s not threatening her, and when she finally says, “I want to go home,” he gets her a car. There’s no reason for her to stay. That is not to say that in the real life situation there wasn’t good reason, it’s that the narrative doesn’t tell me why she thinks she has no agency and therefore was victimized instead of just making a bad choice on a date with a jerk. If you read this as fiction, you’d have to ask “Why?”

          I solved it by making her a CIA agent who has to stay because he’s a spy, but then I’m a pop fiction slut. If it’s not that, if there’s something rooted in her back story that’s so strong that it makes it really difficult to leave, then I’d have to get that on the page, and back story kills.

          1. Oh, nice! Grace the spy! I agree; I think one of the reasons Grace was so angry is that she was also made at herself for lacking agency. If I were writing it, the date would get three to five sentences woven in at the appropriate times as backstory, and I think it’d be about how Grace got her groove back. I think I’d keep “Ansari” as the hero. They’d both be angry, but would have to learn to work together. And . . . okay, we could make the cameras magical and they are able to take pictures of ghosts, and . . . Grace could morph into Bunny Blavatsky, and Aziz would be a late-19th century businessman/journalist/photographer in New York . . . .

            Oh my, I think one of my old zombie stories just came to life again. Bye.

          2. My take was she was really invested in having the date work out, but that could be me projecting on it. God, I hated dating.

          3. That’s the only thing I could think of. She spent a lot of time talking about she’d discussed it with her friends, setting up their expectations (and maybe envy?).


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